Regular Article

The European Physical Journal Special Topics

, Volume 214, Issue 1, pp 481-518

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Smart cities of the future

  • M. BattyAffiliated withCentre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), University College London Email author 
  • , K. W. AxhausenAffiliated withIVT, ETH
  • , F. GiannottiAffiliated withKDD Lab, Istituto ISTI, Area della Ricerca CNR di Pisa, Universit di Pisa
  • , A. PozdnoukhovAffiliated withCentre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), National Centre for Geocomputation, Iontas Building, NUI Maynooth, Co.
  • , A. BazzaniAffiliated withDepartment of Physics and National Institute of Nuclear Physics, University of Bologna
  • , M. WachowiczAffiliated withCentre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering, University of New Brunswick
  • , G. OuzounisAffiliated withGeo-Spatial Information Analysis for Global Security and Stability, Institute for the Security and Protection of the Citizen (IPSC) Joint Research Centre, European Commission, T.P.,
  • , Y. PortugaliAffiliated withDepartment of Geography and the Human Environment, Tel-Aviv University


Here we sketch the rudiments of what constitutes a smart city which we define as a city in which ICT is merged with traditional infrastructures, coordinated and integrated using new digital technologies. We first sketch our vision defining seven goals which concern: developing a new understanding of urban problems; effective and feasible ways to coordinate urban technologies; models and methods for using urban data across spatial and temporal scales; developing new technologies for communication and dissemination; developing new forms of urban governance and organisation; defining critical problems relating to cities, transport, and energy; and identifying risk, uncertainty, and hazards in the smart city. To this, we add six research challenges: to relate the infrastructure of smart cities to their operational functioning and planning through management, control and optimisation; to explore the notion of the city as a laboratory for innovation; to provide portfolios of urban simulation which inform future designs; to develop technologies that ensure equity, fairness and realise a better quality of city life; to develop technologies that ensure informed participation and create shared knowledge for democratic city governance; and to ensure greater and more effective mobility and access to opportunities for urban populations. We begin by defining the state of the art, explaining the science of smart cities. We define six scenarios based on new cities badging themselves as smart, older cities regenerating themselves as smart, the development of science parks, tech cities, and technopoles focused on high technologies, the development of urban services using contemporary ICT, the use of ICT to develop new urban intelligence functions, and the development of online and mobile forms of participation. Seven project areas are then proposed: Integrated Databases for the Smart City, Sensing, Networking and the Impact of New Social Media, Modelling Network Performance, Mobility and Travel Behaviour, Modelling Urban Land Use, Transport and Economic Interactions, Modelling Urban Transactional Activities in Labour and Housing Markets, Decision Support as Urban Intelligence, Participatory Governance and Planning Structures for the Smart City. Finally we anticipate the paradigm shifts that will occur in this research and define a series of key demonstrators which we believe are important to progressing a science of smart cities.

Graphical abstract